It’s time to play the musical guessing game on album releases. Will it be Beyoncé, Drake, Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean and Kanye West? Composite: Getty Images, Rex & Reuters
We’re a month away from Q4 – the music industry’s traditional big album blowout season. There are some certainties this year: Lady Gaga’s album is already scheduled for October, Bublé’s got the Christmas stocking filler market sewn up and Emeli Sandé’s filling in for Adele again. But what of the surprises? Where are the collaborative curios? The surprise album drops? The tabloid-fuelled pop operas? Below you’ll find five potential oddities that range from the almost certain to the “yeah, but imagine though”.
Beyoncé and Jay Z
Bonnie and Clyde ‘16? Beyoncé and Jay Z Photograph: Danny Moloshok/AP
Rumors of a joint album from Beyoncé and husband Jay Z have been swirling since 2014 when the pair embarked on a joint tour of North America (and a stadium in Paris for two nights) entitled On The Run. The jaunt started just three months after Beyoncé had finished her own globe-straddling world tour in support of her surprise self-titled album, and was essentially a nice act of charity on her part. Since then Jay has released a few slivers of new music, while Beyoncé turned bitter soap opera lemons into deliciously refreshing Lemonade. Despite most sane people wanting a Beyoncé/Nicki Minaj duets album, in May there were reports that a collaborative project – Bey Z? – was due “very soon”. Earlier this week, however, that shifted to “… the next three months”, which would make it prime Q4 fodder and the perfect excuse to play album release roulette, i.e. release it exclusively via Tidal. So what can we expect? In an ideal world it would be 12 songs based on Jay’s reaction when he first Don’t Hurt Yourself. Or maybe a conceptual piece based around that evening at the Met Ball titled Elevator. In all likelihood it’s going to be the perfect vehicle for Beyoncé to keep asserting her creative evolution and for Jay to contemplate where it all went wrong.
Existence rating: about as likely as Beyoncé being in charge of the TV remotes in the Carter residence.
Taylor Swift: will she cash in on breakups? Photograph: Spaulding/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock
You’ll be unsurprised to learn that Taylor Swift is very methodical when it comes to album scheduling. Since her country-tinged, wide-eyed debut was released in 2006, each new opus has arrived two years after the last. Her multi-million-selling proper pop debut 1989 arriving in October 2014, so as darkness approaches so should a new Taylor Swift album. Despite the boss of her label claiming no new album would arrive in 2016 (well, actually, he only says it won’t come in October), close personal friend and fully paid up member of the Squad, Gigi Hadid, recently let it slip that Swift was back in the studio. That was then followed by a leaked snippet of what was assumed to be a new song. So what could be fuelling Swift’s sudden burst of creativity? While in the past it would be safe to assume there might be a song or two about recent relationships – a thinly veiled ode to Calvin, or maybe a knowing lyric about Tom Hiddleston’s T-shirt – I’m keen for a full-blown, multi-layered, wonderfully unhinged pop opera based around the Kim and Kanye drama. Titled Excluded From This Narrative, it will be accompanied by a stage show on Broadway in which all the characters are played by Taylor Swift.
Existence rating: about as likely as Taylor apologising to Katy Perry.
Kanye and Drake
A friend of Drizzy … Kanye West. Photograph: Chris Pizzello/AP
Despite his personality hinting at a God complex that suggests complete unawareness of the existence of other artists/people, Kanye’s surprisingly good at collaboration. Watch The Throne – his album with Jay Z – somehow managed to sound urgent and angry despite mainly being recorded in a posh hotel suite in Paris, while his last few albums have fused together the talents of just about every producer Pitchfork’s ever mentioned. Earlier this month, Kanye confirmed to Vogue (of course) that he was working on another collaborative album, rumoured to be called Wolves, this time with professional meme artist Drake. Rumours of the album’s existence were started in August when Kanye made a surprise appearance on stage at Drake’s OVO festival. “Is y’all ready for this album?” Drake asked. “I wasn’t talking about Pablo. I wasn’t talking about Views. I wanna ask y’all right now: are y’all ready for this album?” It’s safe to assume that people were indeed ready. Expect the album to touch on universal themes and concepts and in no way be an exercise in glorious naval-gazing set to whichever dancehall rhythm is popular at the time.
Existence rating: about as likely as Rihanna and Drake’s relationship lasting one more awkward PDA.
Kanye and Chance The Rapper
Chance The Rapper not leaving it to chance. Photograph: Michael Zorn/Invision/AP
Perhaps keen to avoid winding up on Keeping Up With The Kardashians again, Kanye’s apparently working on numerous projects simultaneously. In May, Chance The Rapper mentioned a joint album between him and Kanye called Good Ass Job, the title being the final part of Kanye’s College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation album series. Fast forward to September, however, and things haven’t really progressed. Talking to LA’s Power 106 radio show earlier this week, Chance said the pair have “at least two songs” that could make the album, but that neither of them have had the time to be “back in the bunker and be at the spot and have that time to just sit and make stuff everyday”. It sounds to me like Chance is just waiting for that call from Kanye. Perhaps he’s keeping an eye on his mobile. Maybe, just maybe, if it ever happens they could call themselves – wait for it – Watch The Phone. No? Okay FINE. Take A Chance On Ye? No? ALRIGHT THEN, WHATEVER.
Existence rating: about as likely as Kanye releasing an album entitled This Includes Three Good Songs, Quite A Bit Of Filler And I’m Simply Not Sure It’s Good Enough Actually.
Endless … Frank Ocean Photograph: Claudio Bresciani/Scanpix Sweden
No offence to part-time carpenter and magazine editor Frank Ocean, but do we really need another album right now? Most people are still digesting the appropriately titled Endless – a “visual album” that takes its cues from watching paint dry – and the accompanying Blond(e), a collection of shrugs set to music. According to guitarist Billy “Spaceman” Patterson, Ocean has hours and hours of unreleased noodles that could in theory arrive at any moment. “There’s a lot of stuff that we recorded that I still haven’t heard yet,” Spaceman told Pitchfork. “We recorded a lot of music.” Apparently sessions could last up to 16 hours at a time, with bits of Spaceman’s guitar parts appearing in different contexts across both albums. One theory, that I’m just formulating as I type, is that a new album could arrive in November given that he previously teased that date when he posted a picture of a library card that time. Perhaps Frank’s keen to make it a hat trick of albums in 2016 so he can then vanish again for four years and start that carpentry course he’s been eyeing up.
Existence rating: about as likely as Frank Ocean teasing a long-awaited album by filming himself constructing a spiral staircase.
Source: Jay Z